One of the nice things about having extra income is the ability to be a bit pickier about the food we buy and eat.  Being on a strict budget can make eating well, not to mention healthy, hard.  I was so glad to be able to go to Costco and our local meat market recently to stock up on things like chicken breasts, steaks and pork tenderloin.  We have an extra freezer in our garage so that helps our ability to buy in bulk.  I would say that we have enough meat to last us more than a month.

But it goes beyond being able to afford to buy meat in bulk.  Over the last couple of years, I have started to think more about what we eat.  Living in a place where we have access to farmers markets all year round has made me more conscious of the things we eat.  I have started to read labels more and I have moved farther and farther away from processed foods.  I want my kids to reach for fruits and veggies as snacks rather than cookies and chips.

I had an interesting conversation at work today.  I work with a couple of Haitian women.  One was born and raised here but her husband and her parents are from Haiti and she still has many relatives there. The other was born in Haiti and has been in the States for several years.  They were talking about how Haiti is the poorest island in the West Indies and how people from there (and probably other countries as well) views us here in the States.  They make the best with what they have.  They rely native foods and natural resources.  They don’t waste and they make ALL their own food.  They see they way we eat and waste here in the States and frankly, they’re appalled.  And honestly, I don’t blame them.  They see us fill our plates with food, some of it junk and throw away half of it.  They see us buy things with ingredients not found in nature and they see us overeat all of it.  As one of them put it, they see us as arrogant and she’s right.  These are all things I have started to think about more recently and I have been working to change.

I think over the next couple of weeks, I am going to do a purge of my pantry and cabinets.  I am going to use up all the unnecessary condiments, etc. and start making my own.  Now, I may not go as far as to make my own ketchup and mustard but things like salad dressing and even taco sauce and seasoning, I know I can make myself.  I actually like making my own salad dressings and I already make my own BBQ sauce.  I’m going to go back to making my own pasta and tomato sauce.  That always tastes better to me anyway.  I’m going to try to set up a schedule where I put time aside each weekend to do these things.  I will now what goes into these food and I’ll be able to pronounce all the ingredients.

Starting this weekend, we also plan to get back into the habit of going to the farmers market weekly.  We’ll get up and hit the market on Saturday morning and then we’ll go to the grocery store and plan our meals around what we picked up at the market.  I am also going to be more conscious of where the food I buy comes from and try to buy local as much as possible.  I am going to stop buying as many chips and things like that and keep fruits on hand and veggies cut up for the girls to snack on and I’ll try my hand at making homemade ranch dressing for them to dip them in.

I know that once I make these changes not only will I feel better PHYSICALLY, I’ll feel better emotionally knowing that I am making good choices not only for my family, but for the local economy as well as the planet.  I encourage others to follow the same path.  After all, change starts with just one person.